Took pseudo student (PS) up for a flight yesterday and I think we might actually be making some progress.  We started the flight with a take off, what else?  and apart from him taking FOREVER to get the mighty Cessna 150 up to full power he got us in the air like a pro.  At which point he let the airspeed get low, not good, and drifted to the left.  I managed to coach him back to the proper “not about to die” airspeed and decided that we would start the days lesson with departure stalls.   A departure stall is what happens when a pilot points the nose of his aircraft at the sky light he’s flying an F-15 when in fact he’s flying something that has let’s say, less power.  A plane goes up only when it has sufficient airspeed, then it goes down.  If the pilot has enough altitude to recover from the stall and keep flying great, if not…well.
   After PS had the departure stalls down pat I looked for something else to teach him and as luck would have it we had a broken cloud layer at three thousand feet that would do nicely.  I had PS climb up to the cloud layer and used the clouds to simulate rising terrain and what to do when confronted with such a situation.  We pretended that we had flown into a box canyon and didn’t have enough power to clear the mountains on either side.  I showed PS how to orbit inside the valley while climbing to gain enough altitude to clear the terrain.  I also showed him how to do a hammerhead turn if you there wasn’t enough room to circle.
After that we went back to the airport where his landings were much improved over our last flight.  I only thought we were going to crash once.

Your Weekly Lex, For Strength


A couple of years ago, I had the idea that I’d post stories from “times I almost died.” T.I.A.D., in short.
I didn’t have that many, as it turns out – you don’t get that many chances to “almost die” before completing the act, and then someone else gets to tell stories about you. So the thread didn’t last very long. But it wasn’t an entire waste of time. And it is the weekend, and the world’s on fire and I’m not up to getting my noggin wrapped around it right now.
A new series, for Sunday evenings: “Times I Almost Died.”There are no lessons here. No larger truths. This will not change your world view.
But I have a rather large store of aviation tales, stories wherein things could have gone very wrong, that will take the pressure off Sunday evenings for a while. A month of Sundays, at least.
Date: April, 1987
Place: Fallon, Nevada – B-17 range complex
Environment: Close Air Support (CAS) training missionClose air support is a “high risk” mission. It’s typically flown at low altitude, where no self-respecting strike fighter pilot would choose to find himself, if he could at all avoid it. Down low, any gomer lying on his back with an AK-47 could put a 7.62 round somewhere important, just by sheer, dumb luck. And you’d never see it coming.
But when the folks on the ground call for CAS, it’s because they need it. Their own artillery isn’t answering the ordered bell. People are dying. Our people.
So they call fixed-wing CAS in, because a strike fighter or two with four 2000 pound bombs can make quite an impression on the enemy, if mortars, howitzers and 105′s aren’t doing the job. To put things in perspective, you, gentle reader, could pick up a 105 round, although you’d probably struggle a bit.
You couldn’t part the hair on a 2000 pounder.
And the bigger bombs get (by mass) the greater the proportion of explosive power.
CAS is hard to get just right. By definition you’re in close proximity to friendlies when you release. Getting it wrong could make things much worse, rather than better. You have to be absolutely certain. In Vietnam, over half of all CAS missions went through the target “dry” on their first look. The guys couldn’t be sure. Which sucks for the guys on the ground, because the really, really need your help.
But dropping your ordnance on the wrong side of the line doesn’t help them at all.

Continue reading:


Plug Re-inserted

Two days ago the runway at my skydiving school, Skydive Twin Cities, had six inches of snow on the runway and the restrooms were frozen solid.  It looked like the drop zone would be still be in winter’s death grip this weekend so I pushed our opening day back to next week.  Everyone was disappointed but we couldn’t risk damaging my beautiful grass runway, it’s my baby you know.  Well of course once we’d re-scheduled everything the weather got incredibly warm and is forecast to be even warmer for the next three days.  soooooo, change three, called Texas and told them to send the plane up and told all my staff to put their jumping shoes on because we’re skydiving this weekend!  Oh by the way this last minute change is driving my office manager nuts.

Ferry Flight Pic Of The Day


Stu took this picture of me and cameraman John Driftmier taking a day off in Thailand on the Cirrus trip from Singapore to the US last year.  It was a little intimidating driving the elephant with the guide to help but I managed to get it to move in more or less the direction I wanted it to go.  Although when an elephant wants to stop and eat the elephant gets to stop and eat.

Ferry Flight Pic Of The Day


End of the road for the Bonanza.  Here’s a shot of the Bonanza Cory and I delivered to Brazil last year.  The owner wanted us to bring his new plane directly to his ranch so I could teach him to operate off of the short grass runway he had.  It was a great day of flying,topped off with horse back riding and a Brazilian barbecue.

Plug Pulled

Six inches of fresh wet snow, cold temperatures for the next three days plus frozen restrooms and a muddy parking lot were enough to convince me that maybe we shouldn’t skydive this weekend.  It was a difficult decision but in the end I told the pilot to stay in Texas for another week and We would try again next Friday.  I sure the local skydivers will howl, bitch and moan but it just didn’t make sense to trash our beautiful grass runway by trying to get on it too early.  So I get another week off of trying to avoid doing the work around the house I’ve been putting off all winter…..great.

Another Setback

This is getting ridiculous.  I’ve got twenty employees who only make money when we’re skydiving and so far this season they’ve made nothing.  Jump masters can’t jump, pilots can’t fly, packers have nothing to pack and video editors have nothing to edit.  Getting snow this late in the season would be funny if so many families didn’t depend on the income to feed their families.  I’ve gone ahead and scheduled the plane we’re leasing for the season to show up this Friday in the hopes my runway is dried enough to use this weekend.  If not there is another airport close by that we can use.  Keep your fingers crossed.